C-17 sale to UAE moves one step closer

Washington DC
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The United Arab Emirates is one step closer to signing a contract to buy four Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs after 10 months of price negotiations.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 18 December notified Congress of a pending deal for a $501 million logistics package to support a direct commercial sale of the four aircraft.

The logistics and support package will include training, five AAR-47 missile warning systems, Have Quick radios and spares, the notice says.

If the UAE buys the aircraft, the sale will support the transport of equipment and troops to the Middle East region, plus help with US and NATO airlift needs in Afghanistan, the DSCA notice says.

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The notification is required under the foreign military sales process. The step is required to complete an FMS deal, but it does not guarantee that both parties will reach an agreement.

The contract has been under negotiation since the UAE selected four C-17s in February. A contract signing was anticipated at the Dubai air show in November, but the event passed without an announcement.

Meanwhile, Boeing has started building all four C-17s on risk in expectation of closing the deal. The four potential UAE aircraft are among the 15 Boeing is scheduled to deliver in 2011.

Congress has already provided Boeing a huge buffer if the UAE deal falls through. Lawmakers have passed a defence spending deal that adds 10 C-17s to the fiscal year 2010 budget, which the US Air Force did not request. The UK Royal Air Force also has announced an order for one C-17.

Boeing declines to comment on the DSCA notification, saying that negotiations are ongoing. Boeing also has delivered two C-17s to Doha in Qatar Airways livery.